Comedy Central Analysis - March 2010

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MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Comedy Central is experimenting with various series and specials to replace repeats of the previous night's THE DAILY SHOW at 8pm, followed by THE COLBERT REPORT at 8:30 PM.

 For the rest of the evening on most weekdays short-run series fill the last two hours, with premieres staggered throughout the year. With nearly 200 episodes still in rotation, SOUTH PARK, the traditional go-to series to fill problem time periods, has been joined lately by FUTURAMA and TOSH.0 in that role. Friday nights are devoted to Stand-Up specials, with movies and more Stand-Up  dominating the rest of the Weekend.

Comedy Central's schedule stands out in nonfiction cable (excluding news/sports networks) because two of its highest-profile franchises, The Daily Show With John Stewart and The Colbert Report, are weekday live-to-tape productions. Comedy Central's programs are arranged on a grid rare for its dependably predictable pattern -- day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, even year-to-year. These folks surely have some of the strongest appointment viewing numbers in the business. Their audience is also unusually, enviably young - hovering, on average, around thirty-one years old. That it also skews male should make you imagine the sound of money being printed.

MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison March 2010 vs. March 2009 (% Change)

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-10%

0%

-12%

Tuesday 8-11pm

22%

43%

35%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-13%

1%

-3%

Thursday 8-11pm

-19%

-14%

-21%

Friday 8-11pm

-28%

-12%

-39%

Saturday 8-11pm

6%

27%

-8%

Sunday 8-11pm

-29%

-24%

-33%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-11%

-2%

-14%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Stand-up specials continued to score well, occupying 7 of the top 10 slots HH Rtg slots for the month. Compared to last month HH and key demos were up modestly, while HH and W18-49 declined a similar percentage from last year.

Mondays generally grow from 8- 11pm, with SOUTH PARK the strongest offering, no matter how many episodes are slotted on a given day - March ranged from one at 1030p to to four in a two hour block 9-11p. Not surprisingly, the latter was the strongest Monday of the month.

Tuesday's  2-hour stack of SOUTH PARK rose sharply above its 8-9p lead-in, which featured a mixed bag of series repeats as well as a TOSH.0 special. The stack grew in HH and, especially, M18-49 as the evening wore on, with the strongest numbers at 10p and 1030p. The night overall was up sharply over last year, as well as last month, now that repeats of the new season of SOUTH PARK  can be added into the mix from 9-11p.

The last two Wednesdays of the month saw the premiere of Season 14 of SOUTH PARK at 10p, followed by the debut at 1030p of new animated series UGLY AMERICANS, which held 65% of the lead-in for HH and key demos. Week 2 of UGLY AMERICANS dropped slightly from its much-hyped debut, but the overall performance of the new series will be determined over the next few weeks. Overall, the night grew in the 20% range from last month, while HH were down from last year, and demos flat.

Thursdays declined by modest double-digits across the board from last year, and slightly compared to last month. 10-11p IMPORTANT THINGS WITH DEMETRI MARTIN  and SARAH SILVERMAN saw their second seasons conclude, and were replaced by repeats of UGLY AMERICANS and SOUTH PARK, respectively. Demos grew sharply these last two weeks 10-11p, as Comedy Central decides whether to renew the two sophomore series.

Friday's Stand-Up offerings were down across the board from last year, and essentially flat with last month.  A repeat of SINBAD: WHERE YOU BEEN was the only one of this month's Friday Stand-Up specials to over-delivered the March Prime average.

Two runs of the movie WEDDING CRASHERS and Stand-up specials from Jeff Dunham and Nick Swardson were the weekend highlights for March. Saturday was flat with February 2010 and Sunday showed slight increases from last month, but was down sharply from March 2009.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Comedy ranks among the top 10 cablers for the 18-34 demographic, and mainly with a mix of their original series, stand-up and sketch, not off-net acquisitions like most of the other cable networks.

Originals are sketch, stand-up, reality.

Comedy over the past year or so has actively been buying movie packages from many of the big studio distributors and it doesn't look like they are slowing down anytime soon.

Important:

COMEDY CENTRAL and Levity Entertainment have signed a multi-year, multi-platform output deal for a series of stand-up specials that will premiere on the channel in 2009 and 2010.  The deal includes six stand-up specials from Christopher Titus, Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco, Jim Breuer, Mitch Fatel, Pete Correale that will air in 2009 and six additional stand-up specials that will shoot in 2009 to air in 2010.  At least eight of the upcoming stand-up specials will be released on DVD by COMEDY CENTRAL Home Entertainment.   Stand-up specials continue to be incredible success on the channel, and allows the development of comedians across all platforms.

Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth. Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals. Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots.

Comedy Central knows what's funny. One of the many growing networks, they are one of the most successful for on-air, online and on-the-go mobile technology. They give their viewers access to the cutting-edge original programming, stand-up and sketch comedy, plus offbeat comedy TV series and movies. Their strategy of attracting the young male demographic continues to grow month to month whether their strategy be one off originals or stunt/holiday programming.

Comedy continues to acquire a variety of original stand-up comedy programs and specials. There are three outlets currently for talent that the network features stand-up shows: COMEDY CENTRAL PRESENTS, LIVE AT GOTHAM, as well as one-hour specials filmed exclusively for COMEDY CENTRAL.

Comedy, which like TBS, keeps its entire focus on comedy, has new seasons of several original series in production for 2010, including The Sarah Silverman Program, Important Things With Demetri Martin.and Tosh.0  Cable networks in record numbers are launching their own comedies out of sheer necessity because there are so few comedies being scheduled by the broadcast networks. Since the late 1990s, reality shows have steadily displaced comedies on the broadcast side, and many broadcast comedy writers have shifted to cable.

Comedy Central and The New York Comedy Festival announced a multi-year partnership deal, giving the five-day comedy showcase a national television partner for its fifth iteration.  The festival will feature a variety of top-tier comedians including Frank Caliendo, Louis C.K., Craig Ferguson, Carlos Mencia, Joel McHale, B.J. Novak, Tracy Morgan, Brian Regan, Sarah Silverman and Katt Williams.  The multi-year national partnership will include producing an on-air special shot at the Festival which will premiere in early 2009, as well as digital media support and other content opportunities.

Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth.  Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals.  Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots.

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